Mother Tongue Education Policy and Practice in Federal Context

Mother Tongue Education Policy and Practice in Federal Context

Dr.Lok Bahadur Lopchan


People can communicate by language but not blood (Anderson, 2015). One of the most crucial matter is medium of instruction for teaching learning activities to attain equitable and inclusive quality education.The title of this paper is Multilingual Education Policy and Practice in Federal Context.

Sustaible Development Goals-4 (2016-2030) has ensured the equitable and inclusive quality education and promoting life skills for all human being. The world is celebrating the International Decade of Indigeneous Language (2022-2032). And, Language Commission Nepal has just recommended to the government of Nepal nearly one dozen langauges for using official language in seven provinces and all local levels (2021).So, the country needs international and interdisciplinary models or practices of multilingual education to address linguistic human rights in education.

Implementing these policy commitments in over 120 languages across seven provinces and 753 municipalities is the next challenge for the fledgling democracy (Fillmore,2019). Nepal and many countries of world are facing the challenges of losing language vitality and shifting endangered langauges to dominant languages. Thus, 37 langauges have below one thousand speakers in 131 langauges of Nepal. To transfer mother langauage to younger generantion is big challenge. All  children of schools haven’t got rights to education in their mother tongue and digitalization of the languages is  poor which isn’t sufficien to  catch up the motion of the time.

Linguistic Background

The great narrative or myth has ended in the globe (Fukuyama, 2014 ). According to Darida, there is not only one ultimate truth, no only one center and single values, but also multitruths or multi realities concept that believes in borderless or out of the box thinking which can renowned as deconstruction theory in the world (Bhattarai, 2014). This deconstruction theory is the origin of multilingual world concept aslo, the result of linguistic deconstruction,many countries of the world, have been following multilingualism for using official language and applying in education system. Language commission of Nepal recommended to the government of Nepal nearly a dozen of languages for using official language in all seven provinces and 753 local levels too.Most importantly,commission recommended other various languages for using as a medium in the domain of communication, education and  government service delivery.

Every language learner has universal grammar (U.G.) or basic language learning template in first language, then he/she can acquire second language easily on the foundation of first language (Noam Chomsky,1976). Although one  language policy (English language only or Nepali only) of the state has created hezemony (Gramsci and Althusser, 2014) upon the endangered languages and have been the dominant languages as a killer of endandangered langauages. In the context of Nepal before the restoration of democracy in 1990, one Nepali language policy enforced for every administrative institution and every Nepali. When Constitituiton of Nepal 2072 promulgated, then after Nepal transformed into federal structure and multilingual policy have implemented.

In the global context, Human Rights Decleration (1948) is the first legal document with the  provision of mother tongue education rights to all human being in this universe.Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Convention, 1989 (No. 169) article 28 has ensured the rights to be taught to read and write in own languages, have the opportunity to attain fluency in the national language and measures shall be taken to preserve and promote the languages of indigeneous people.

In 1993, the National Language Reform Suggestion committee formed with the leadership of Bairagi Kaila (Mr.Til Bikram Nembang), a distinct poet. The report of this committee has been the linguistic milestone but only a few recommendation of the report have been implemented. Then, other legal arrangements and research projects have been conducted where language related provision can be found scattered in various documents. After formed Language Commission as constitutional institution, it has been trying to address issues all of language. Otherwise, various research studies have been done from national and international academicians and institutions. Medium of education and language of education study (Ministry Education Nepal, 2016) has made sequencing of language to use in medium of instruction at school education. Those are fully medium of mother tongue, mother tongue as a oral medium based on need, Nepali as mother tongue and Nepali as second language. Language commission Report of official language for Provinces (2021) has sketched way forward for using the language in three components of government are  legislative, executive and judiciary.

Nepal’s language planning response to indigeneous and minority children’s language needs has been guided by deficiency orientations. There is a need for children’s mother tongues as the medium of instruction from early childhood development (ECD) stage to minimally class three (Awasthi, 2004). The multiple forces conditioning or influencing the everyday language use and choices the mother tongues of the ethno-linguistic minorities show trends of shift from native tongue to other tongues that are more powerful and relevant for education and employment (Kandel, 2011).

The dialogic engagement is necessary to challenge the invention of language as a fixed, bounded, and monoglossic entity and to empower language minoritized people towards taking an activist position in transforming monolingual ideologies and practices (Phyak, 2016).The school has been killer of minority language because schools are enforcing to use Nepali langauge only in community schools as a medium of instruction and English only in private schools (Lopchan, 2019).My research have to pay attention to the struggle between various social groups, language and identities in the field of education, these struggles appeared to be shaped greatly by the existing social and political hierarchies  (Pradhan, 2020).

Hence, there are challenges in  one hand and in other hand Nepal transformed into federal system in political, administrative and all dimensions of governance which opened the opportunity to implement multilingual education in the real sense. Culture, language and education are integral parts of the development and competent and qualified human resource are like engine or mechanism for articulating multilingual education policy to practice.

Analysis the Cases  of Program and Budget

The federal government of Nepal has set up various programs for educational sector but no programs and zero budget allocation for mother tongue education whereas constitution of Nepal 2072 and other mega policy documents strongly recommended to get education in children’s mother tongue.Not corporating the mother education program in annual program and budget which proves the giving less priority for this sector due to the cause of misconception upon it .

Provincewise Program and budget

There aren’t any program and  no budget for the mother tongue education in all provinces with federal government of Nepal besides only one Sudurpashchim province. This denotes the mismatch between policies and practice levels from EFA project to SSRP, SSDP and SDGs, all program have highly priority given mother education for quality education. As well as periodic plan of Nepal (such 15th plan) has been keeping in priority for mother tongue education. But the latter on, annual program and budget for education sector has been missing the program and budget for mother tongue based multilingual education which proved the narrow mentality of policy markers and practioners for it at all of three tiers (implementation ) governments.


The following program can be found in the program and budget of fiscal year 2078/79.

  • Graduation community schools to provide life oriented education, enabling the college and schools related tradition, religious and incentives for the vocational education,
  • Expansion physical facilities and reconstruction through chief Ministrial education improvement program,
  • Distribution sanitory pads for girls, manage dressing room, regular health check, Sex sensitize education and psychosocial counselling for students,
  • Teacher student program for leadership and capacity development,
  • Autonomy for Mahamohan Technical School with construction physical infrastructure and establish Madan Bhandari Industrial College with formulating the legal arrangement,
  • Use all over the province the good practices of local level,
  • Expansion of school nursing program upto school level.


Aforementioned education programs reveal that there are no programs and not funding for mother education education in this province. Which has raised the question upon the understanding level for mother tongue education of politician, bureaucrats and others.


The program and budget in fiscal year 2078/79 are as follows:

  • One model community school will establish in every district, physical infrastrure and playgroud also establish for quality education,
  • Enabing libraries related historical documents and Sanskrit schools,
  • Scholarship in tertiary education (family of madhesh martyr, ethnic community, Muslims, Dalit girls),
  • Primary treatment program: One school one nurse program,

This province as like as province-1 has not set the programs for mother tongue education and zero fund for that. This reveals the incapability of this province for federal arrangement of diversity management like culture, language and other multiple issues.

Bagmati Province

The education related program are presented as follow:

  • Continue alternative education,
  • Developing the physical and educational infrastructure of comminity colleges and priliminary function shall be done to establish province university,
  • Wish of Bagmati province is vocational education for prosperity and graduation of physical and educational infrastructure,
  • Establishing laboratory of science, information and technology, fomulation master plan for building model schools, arrange 262 teacher quotas of Math and Science subject,
  • The program of literate province, enhance quality of education in the collaboration with Kathmandu university,
  • Scholarship for Chhori Buhari who study at community campuses,
  • Establish youth scientist fund to attract youth scientists.

This province has also missed opportunity to manage linguistic diverstiy in education setting including mother tongue education program and funding for it . So, regarding to the mother tongue education, it can be  said zeo program and nill funding is in this province which is against the soul of federal state and governance system.

Gandaki province

This province has not proposed for mother tongue education which has proved that there are no programs and zero funding for mother tongue education in program and budget in this province fiscal year 2078/79. The education related program and budget of Gandaki province are given below:

  • Infrastructure development for establishing Gandaki Technical Training Academy and Gandaki university,
  • Establish Gandaki science and technology academy with laboratory and providing research fellow,
  • Martyr Dil Bahadur Ramtel memorial scholarship for higher education,
  • Graduation physical infrastructure of martyr memorial residential school.

Lumbini province

The program related to education are given here but there is no programs and not allocating any budget for mother tongue education in this province.

  • Set of model community schools,
  • Establish mountaineering science and technology universtiy,
  • Scholarship upto diploma level for the family members of civil war victioms,
  • Scholarship for skillful technical manpower in the condition of serving 3 years after completion of study at this province,
  • Establish vocational education and training center by arranging scheme of scholarships,
  • Establish agriculture and livestook related vocational schools in every district,
  • Modify curriculum for providing human value and entrerprenership education,
  • Karnali province voluntary service in degree level education,
  • School nursing service Program,
  • Incentive program for child development program,
  • Chhori Buhari scholarship program.

Sudurpaschim province

This province has become exceptional in the comparison of other provinces for the programming of mother tongue education. Only this province has  set the mother tongue education program which has made not being zeo program and nill funding for mother tongue education in fiscal year 2078/79 all over the country. Some education programs of this province are presented below:

  • Incentives for campuses which are teaching science and technology, grants for set up laboratory, establish 9 model campuses,
  • D./M.B.B.S. scholarship with vision my province my expertise,
  • Construction of school infrasctruture and establish libraries,
  • Construction hostel for technical stream schools,
  • Establishin big schools with the cost sharing model,
  • Construction of residential school for special education,
  • Building science laboratory and physical infrastructure at community schools,
  • Programs for operating traditional, religious and special education,
  • Collaboration with local levels for declaring literate province,
  • Establish province university,
  • Conducting campaigns and establish the one model campus in every district,
  • Ensure mother tongue education upto class three and essential support for local levels to provide ethical education at schools,
  • Grants for the institutions which are providing technical education, scholarship for poor and family member of martyrs.


1.Set up the language section in ministry of culture, tourism and civil aviation and establish mother tongue education section in ministry of education, science and technology to implement existing langauge policies, formulating language related new policies and to apply the recommendation of language commission.

2.Make mandatory to articulate mother tongue education policies to practice by setting mother tongue education programs and make compel to allocate certain amount of  budget for it. Suppose 10% for MTE education from education sector budget in the three tier of governments.

  1. Develop capacity of manpowers: Make compulsory to train in mother tongue education for all teachers who teach under class three minimum period of 15 days. And, organize the training compolsurily for all the staffs of three level of government. It should be made compel for all local level staffs as well.
  2. Coordinate, cooperate and collaborate with universities, CBOs, NGOs, INGOs, development partners for conducting mother tongue education program under the one door system which cut dublicating program, cost effective and collective effort to get targets.

5.Transform the community schools by improving management based on the performance (increasing learning achievement) with appointing capable headteacher and performance contract should be done with headteacher, teachers and students of upper classes  after launching the mother tongue education program at schools.Increasing 10% learning achievement of every student, every teacher in every subject and every class in every school which has been practice with collaboration of some local levels by Language Commission.

  1. Embark the result based monitoring and evaluation system, tie up it with performance based appraisal of teacher and educational authorites. And, link up performance of the teachers and staffs with reward and punishment system.


According to the national assessment of student achievement (ERO, NASA report of class eight,2068) the learning achievenment of students whose mother language is Nepali achieved higher in comparision with the student whose mother language is non Nepali. Due to the medium instruction of in the classroom is only Nepali language in community schools and only English in private schools in Nepal, non Nepali speaking children are suffering from medium language barriers of classroom wheares every child shall have the right to get education in their mother language upto basic school education level. These instances reveal the violation of children linguistic human rights and unable to address linguistic diversity of the classroom in the fledgling federal cotext of Nepal. In summing up, to capture the spirit of federalism and constitutonal right, mother tongue based multilingual education should have ensured for every child to get education in their mother tongue in all provinces and  local levels.


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Fukumaya, Francis (1992), The End of  History and The Last Man, Penguin Books.

Fillmore, Naomi (2076 edit.Yadab and Awasthi), Perspectives on Mother Tongue Based Multilingual Education in Nepal,  Local Perspectives on mother tongue education in Nepal, Nepal Academy.

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Lopchan, Lok Bahadur  (2019), Use of Tamang Language in Schools, Unpublished Ph.D.dissertation,Dean office of Education Faculty, T.U.

Ministry of Education, ERO, NASA Report of class-8 (2068).

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